Why Jay Z Deserves to Be First Rapper Inducted in Songwriters Hall of Fame

Brooklyn's own MC great is feted by Esquire ahead of historic honor.

June 8, 2017 9:45 am

As was announced back in February, Jay Z (a.k.a. Shawn Carter) will be the first rapper inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony takes place next Thursday, June 15.

But it’s not to early to honor one of the greatest rappers to ever sling a rhyme.

Esquire recently wrote at length about the rapper’s rise to fame, describing Jay Z as “(not) a man so much as a region, one with its own weather, customs, language.”

Growing up in the dangerous “Marcy Houses” in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, an eight-year-old Jay Z’s first exposure to music was the R&B records in his parents’ home—and then the rap he heard in the streets. He immediately started writing his own rhymes as early as 1978.

Below, RealClearLife has teased some of the most incredible facts out of the lengthy read.

Everything You Need to Know About Jay-Z
Jay-Z speaks onstage during the 56th GRAMMY Awards held at Staples Center on January 26, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Michael Tran/FilmMagic)

-If Jay Z were a baseball star, his stats would be Ruthian. He’s sold multiple millions of records, won 21 Grammys, and has the most No. 1 albums as a solo artist (13).

Everything You Need to Know About the Brilliance of Jay-Z
Jay-Z and Beyonce attend The 40/40 Club 10 Year Anniversary Party at 40 / 40 Club on June 17, 2013 in New York City. (Johnny Nunez/WireImage)

-Business-wise, he’s founded a number of successful business, including the Rocawear clothing company, 40/40 Clubs, Roc Nation and Roc Nation Sports, and the Tidal streaming service.

Everything You Need to Know About Jay-Z
Rap artist Jay-Z performs during a sold-out show at The Pearl concert theater at the Palms Casino Resort December 29, 2007 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

-In his 193 solo songs, there are 902 instances of the word “like”—the majority of which are used to set up similes. (Compared to Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets, which only use “like” 30 times.)

-When Rick Rubin recorded the now-iconic “99 Problems,” he exclaimed to a member of the Beastie Boys of Jay’s style: “I’ve never seen anything like it. He doesn’t write anything down. He just kind of sits there, listens to the track, and then goes in and does it.” (Note: There is language in both the clip above and below that might not be suitable for an office environment.)

-Speaking of that famous song, Esquire writer Wyatt Mason notes something that most listeners probably don’t realize: that the hook in “99 Problems” was taken from an Ice-T track of the same name.

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